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Kgamane: I leave with a heavy heart

Kgamane

When President Mokgwetsi Masisi and Bangwato converged at the Serowe main Kgotla last year, I made a sincere appeal to both government and Morafe to protect me. I did so because I felt so vulnerable and weak in a moment of war.

I made this appeal in anticipation of an uncomfortable future where the sacrificial lamb will be none other than myself. This prophesy has come to pass. I leave with a heavy heart, especially by the way in which the government has treated me in light of all these. Not even accorded a time to say my goodbyes or do a proper handover after 34 years of national service.

Above is a heart-piercing account of Kgosi Sidiegeng Harrigan Kgamane, the sacked Bangwato regent king and a man behind the longest regency in the history of Botswana, having held for 34 years, the fort for Ian Khama since his days at the barracks. History, without a doubt will best remember Kgamane as a victim of circumstances who did not live to see and say his goodbyes to his people and his masters-the state and paramount Chief -Ian Khama. When the conflict between the president, Masisi and his predecessor, Ian Khama reached its crescendo, Kgamane, by virtue of his position, was in the crossfire, caught between two masters, all of whom he had served diligently.

By his grace, an opportunity presented itself that all affected parties, expect Khama, were under the same roof in Serowe. Kgamane says he then decided to seize the opportunity to make desperate appeal to all to spare him for he was not born a warrior but a servant. I made that appeal thinking all have ears. I said to all-please protect me. My point of departure on that note was that ha di lwa digata marojana (its the grass that will suffer when two elephants fight). All did not listen. The bickering continued and I was torn between the two authorities pulling apart. The pressure was too much to bear, I felt weak in mind and body. I felt helpless, he says.

Kgamane says when this all happened, all parts of his life suffered, including his family. A father of four, three daughters and a son, his worry, he says was how his family was being affected by his situation given especially his advanced age. Some of my children are government officers and they would be asked all sorts of questions by whoever thought could get a better explanation from them. I felt defeated and without options. I felt for my Morafe, he adds.

When the government moved to misdirect its wrath towards him as a mere messenger of the King, Kgamane says deep anguish enveloped him: Upon realizing that I may not be able to keep up with the developments and their pace, I approached Kgosikgolo Khama for release to go and rest. It was on the 22 of April 2022. He agreed and upon requesting to serve a three months notice to government to do my goodbyes, I was to my shock, slapped with a dismissal letter.

Kgamane says his heart nearly stopped pumping. Nobody wants to leave like that, especially after my sacrifices and undivided service to the people. I felt betrayed and abused by my government given my long and dutiful service. I felt a deep anger and frustration because I dont think I deserved that treatment. I felt disrespected fired in a manner in which I was when I had especially requested to bow out in peace. Of all the developments accompanying this case, my dismissal has hurt me the most and with a permanent scar. I did not even have time to say goodbye to my people, my paramount chief, the people of Botswana and my government, he said.

Kgamane has vacated his house given to him by Bogosi and says he is now back to his roots, Shoshong where he comes from and where he was plunged from to the service of Bangwato. Interestingly, it appears like he does not own land or a house in Serowe despite his long stay at the village. I have always stayed in a house provided to me by Bogosi. I did not have an idea to own residence in Serowe because I knew that I have a home in Shoshong to go back to once my term was over, he explains.

On his state of mind amid everything that has occurred, Kgamane says: I have counseled myself. Time heals everything. I will forgive but nobody in my situation will forget what my government has done to me. I do not think they did not understand my predicament. It was pure heartlessness and an insensitive act. I am deeply hurt and I wont lie about it. On the way forward, Kgamane says he is taking things slow but will be focusing on his farming hobby. I have just drilled a borehole and will be pursuing irrigation system.

He takes long to respond when asked about his legacy, a clear testimony that the end is not what he had anticipated. Finally he responds with a heavy sigh, I will leave that for you to judge. If you ask me, I will say I have done my utmost to fulfill my duty. Like all men I am not a saint but I do not think my shortcomings should define me either, just as my successes. All I can say is that I did my part and did it with pride and a great sense of duty. How all has ended I believe should not be what defines my legacy.

Given a chance to say his last messages to Khama as he could not according to his account, Kgamane says: I am sorry my master for the turn of things. If you felt I did not measure up to anything, please pardon me. I am sorry that I did not handover the way I had wanted to. I am sorry that I leave the tribe in this state and I want to tell you that I remain available to serve in different capacities as may be seen fit by yourself in the future.

To Morafe, he says: Nobody anticipated and knew about this turbulence. Neither did I. If I have fallen short of your expectations please find it in your heart to pardon me. Like you, circumstances were beyond my control. I remain at your service should the need arise in the future. Remain united and at peace as you and I had hoped. To the government? I did not think it will end like this. I hope one day I will forgive those who did this to me. My heart bleeds for the way I was treated and fired like a dog after my service to this country. Everybody knows I did not deserve this kind of treatment.

Once a chairperson of Ntlo Ya Dikgosi, which plays advisory role to government, Kgosi Kgamane says he dreams of a day Dikgosi will be respected and acknowledged for their role in nation building as it used to be the case. A somewhat devoted servant of the people with an abiding commitment to his people, the 73-year-old Kgamanes national service stretches back to 1974 during his days as an employee of the Central District Council before his installment as a regent in 1988 aged only 39 year. He was asked to pack his bags, leave his home in Shoshong to assume the Bangwato chieftaincy which to date, has been subjected to regency since 1926 during Tshekedi Khamas regency.

Like their father, Sir Seretse s three sons Ian Khama (heir apparent) and his two twin brothers, Anthony Khama and Tshekedi Khama were still available to take up the seat, and also available were Seretses uncle, Kgosi Tshekedi Khamas four sons who could be regents. In an interview this week, Khama described Kgamane as a loyal and obedient man who like many of his associates was sacrificed by the government to get back at him. He is truthful and humble gentleman who has served with so much devotion to this country and Bangwato. I wish him well, said Khama

As would be known, Kgamanes departure has left a vacancy and tribe in destitution. Khama who is currently in South Africa does not hint much on taking over the seat but rather saying serving and submitting to the current vindictive regime will be like giving it legitimacy. If resuming usurping full chieftainship duties means being on the regimes payroll and reporting to such incompetents that would be like a teacher having to be taught by primary school kids, he said.

Addressing Dikgosi this week, the Minister of Local government, Kgotla Autlwetse said Kgamane was dismissed following his repeated hosting of Kgotla meetings where the subject Ian Khama was discussed. He rebelled over several warnings to cease doing so hence a decision for his dismissal. He said Kgamane will be given all his dues by the government. On whether sacrificing Kgamane will pave way for peace or set anybody free as is common occurrence with many sacrifices remains a mystery which can only be explained by the future.

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BAC graduates 727 students this year

9th December 2022

Botswana Accountancy College (BAC) last week held its 2022 graduation where 727 students graduated after spending the last two years of their academic studies navigating through the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic.

It is said that during the pandemic, BAC provided students with laptops, tablets and data sim cards to facilitate virtual learning and blended learning. The Acting Minister of Education and Skills Development at the ceremony, Wilhemina Makwnja noted that the students managed to create connections and build bridges to reach their ultimate goals, therefore their graduation is not only testimony of their strength and resilience, but it also demonstrates their commitment to excel by facing the challenges they encountered head on to break through the barriers and focused on their success.

“I trust that the graduates will build onto these qualities and competencies as they venture into the industry to impart their skills in the various sectors of the economy,” said Makwinja. She also shared that she strongly believes that the graduates will become agents of change and that they will take advantage of the spectrum of opportunities available in the market both locally and internationally.

Living in an era of digital economies, e-commerce, fin-tech and many other new eco-systems that have been created as the world continues to evolve, it is said to be inevitable that we all need to be steadfast and adapt to the rapid changes experienced before the pandemic. “As part of the transformation agenda, the Ministry of Entrepreneurship has been established with a mandate to drive development of sustainable industries and trade, and this can be achieved through ‘accelerated transformative investments in Botswana’,” said Makwinja.

She further noted it is through the Ministry that youth entrepreneurship projects will be supported including administration of the Youth Development Fund that facilitates funding commercialization of various youth projects. “There are other Government incentives in Agriculture which are aimed at supporting Batswana farmers with commercialization of their produce to supply both the local market and exporting to other markets,” added Makwinja.

The BAC Executive Director, Serty Leburu on the other hand enunciated that it was important to recognise that the past years they have gone through a lot of changes and mostly life defining moments as the school lost some valuable staff members and students during the Covid-19 pandemic. “The environment within which we operate has been changing rapidly and as an institution we have to constantly come up with some interventions and pivot ourselves in order to rise to the test and adapt,” said Leburu.

Leburu also renowned that they were also launching the BAC 2022-2027 Institutional Strategy focusing on key areas for Teaching and Learning, Research, Innovation and Entrepreneurship, Transition to University Status and Internationalization, Asset Mobilisation and Optimization as well as Student and Staff experience. “It is our ambition to continue to expand into other markets to provide access to our programs through partnerships and collaborations with both local and international private and public entities,” added Leburu

In addition to this, she reflected that research, innovation, and consultancy are some of the areas they are making strides to develop and grow in partnership with various stakeholders. Through the schools there are projects that are being worked on at various levels. “As BAC we continue to work with the industry and our partners, we assess the market to identify training and development needs to capacitate employees to meet the demands of the new and evolving economies,” concluded Leburu.

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Media have a Role in Accelerating Harm Reduction Adoption

8th December 2022

African Scientists and Experts Call for the adoption of a Harm Reduction in approach in Public Health Strategies and Tobacco Control. Media have a critical role to play in accelerating Harm Reduction efforts by informing and sensitizing cigarette smokers on the availability and benefits of alternative, potentially lower risk products to cigarretes. Traditional cessation and smoking prevention norms are not the only ways that smokers who cannot or don’t’ want to quit can make healthier choices that cause less harm to themselves and those around them.

This was said during the 2nd Harm Reduction Exchange conference for African journalists held in Nairobi, Kenya on the 1st of December 2022. Speaking at the Harm Reduction Exchange Conference, Integra Africa Principal Dr. Tendai Mhizha emphasized the role that journalists and media houses should play in handling misinformation and disinformation in tobacco harm reduction discourse that is actually perpetuating the death and disease caused by people continuing to smoke combustible cigarettes. “There has been a lot of disinformation surrounding the topic of nicotine and the alleged negative effects that e-cigarettes have on public health.

This has led to policies that disfavour risk reduces products and narratives that completely deny their benefits. The media have the difficult responsibility to curb the scourge of disinformation and misinformation on harm reduction just like on other socio-political stances that are prescriptive and do not uphold consumers’ right to healthier lifestyle choices,” Dr Mhizha said.

The Harm Reduction Exchange cast a spotlight on alternative ways to reduce harm among tobacco smokers. Held under the theme Harm Reduction: Making a difference in Africa, the conference focused on the progress being made through harm reduction strategies in all fields related to public health such as drug and alcohol abuse, excessive sugar consumption, skin lightening and other addictive and behavioral practices. A wide array of harm reduction strategies and initiatives that are deployed towards reducing unnecessary deaths through non-communicable diseases were presented and discussed.

On his part, Prof. Abdoul Kassé, a world renowned and awarded Oncologist and a Professor of Surgery at the Cancer Institute in Senegal, said that Harm Reduction is a powerful public A Summary of the HR Exchange 30th November  1st December 2022 health tool that has the potential to reduce cancer by 30% and should be at the centre of all public health development strategies. Harm reduction, he said, has already benefited many people in public health and is the most viable alternative in tobacco control.

It applies to areas where there is a need to reduce the harm associated with a practice or consumption of a substance that is overused in society leading to increased morbidity and mortality. “Innovative Harm Reduction initiatives will help to keep more Africans alive. Tobacco Harm Reduction initiatives, including the use of popular e-cigarettes, nicotine patches and chewing gums, have continued to generate a lot of misunderstanding in both the public health community and in the media. However, there is evidence that the use of potentially less harmful alternatives than cigarettes for those who are not willing or cannot give up smoking with currently approved methods may be a solution, not necessarily the best for everyone but by far better than continuous smoking.

Where cessation repeatedly fails, switching to less harmful products is expected to result in benefits for many smokers,” Prof. Abdoul Kassé said. Similarly, views were expressed by Kenya’s Dr. Vivian Manyeki who said tobacco Harm Reduction has a solid scientific and medical basis, and it has a lot of promise as a public health measure to assist millions of smokers. “Many smokers are unable, or at least unwilling, to achieve cessation through complete nicotine and tobacco abstinence. They continue smoking despite the very real and obvious adverse health consequences and against the multiple public health campaigns. Conventional smoking cessation proposals should be complemented with alternative but more realistic options through Harm Reduction,” Dr. Manyeki said.

Tobacco Harm Reduction was introduced to mitigate the damage caused by cigarette smoking—the most dangerous form of tobacco use, and the leading cause of preventable diseases, including cardiovascular disease, lung cancer, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. “Nicotine has an addictive potential but plays a minor role in smoking-related morbidity and mortality. Across the world, there is growing interest among experts in novel approaches towards tobacco control and there is an ongoing discussion that reducing the negative effects of smoking can be also achieved by tobacco harm reduction,” Dr. Kgosi Letlape, an ophthalmologist and President of Africa Medical Association and the president of the Association of Medical Councils of Africa, said.

Tobacco cessation is a key factor in the prevention of cardiovascular diseases and cancer. Abstinence from tobacco smoking is one of the primary goals for health promotion and management globally but it is unachievable in a huge amount of cases. This task remains unaccomplished despite extensive public campaigns on the health dangers of tobacco smoking. Thus, the development of novel strategies to reduce smoking is imperative. Moreover, the use of innovations in smoking products has been currently adopted by several smokers to reduce the health risks of smoking.

“The Harm Reduction approach prevents drug-related deaths and overdose fatalities and is the only way out for addicts. In the same way these alternative technologies can reduce tobacco harm and accelerate the journey to a smoke-free world as they reduce exposure to toxicants,” Bernice Apondi, A Policy Manager at Voices of Community Action and Leadership Kenya (VOCAL-Kenya), said.

During the Harm Reduction Exchange, journalists drawn from Southern, West and East African countries, including: Nigeria, Botswana, Ethiopia, Kenya, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Rwanda, Eswatini, Tanzania, Uganda, South Africa, Zambia, and Zimbabwe debated and set forth several resolutions in regards to the present and future as well as the challenges and progress made in Harm Reduction,and science-led regulation.

The Harm Reduction Exchange brought together high-level policy makers, physicians, scientists and health policy experts with media stakeholders from Africa in a lively mix of speeches, presentations, and panel discussions. The key note speakers included Prof Abdoul Aziz Kasse, Ms Bernice Opondi, Joseph Magero, Jonathan Fell, Chimwemwe Ngoma, Clive Bates, Dr. Kgosi Letlape, Dr. Vivian Manyeki and Dr. Tendai Mhizha.

 

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Over 2 000 civil servants interdicted

6th December 2022

Over 2,000 civil servants in the public sector have been interdicted for a variety of reasons, the majority of which are criminal in nature.

According to reports, some officers have been under interdiction for more than two years because such matters are still being investigated. Information reaching WeekendPost shows that local government, particularly councils, has the highest number of suspended officers.

In its annual report, the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crime (DCEC) revealed that councils lead in corrupt activities throughout the country, and dozens of council employees are being investigated for alleged corrupt activities. It is also reported that disciplined forces, including the Botswana Defence Force (BDF), police, and prisons, and the Directorate of Intelligence and Security (DIS) have suspended a significant number of officers.

The Ministry of Education and Skills Development has also recorded a good number of teachers who have implicated in love relationships with students, while some are accused of impregnating students both in primary and secondary school. Regional education officers have been tasked to investigate such matters and are believed to be far from completion as some students are dragging their feet in assisting the investigations to be completed.

This year, Mmadinare Senior Secondary reportedly had the highest number of pregnancies, especially among form five students who were later forcibly expelled from school. Responding to this publication’s queries, Permanent Secretary to the Office of the President Emma Peloetletse said, “as you might be aware, I am currently addressing public servants across the length and breadth of our beautiful republic. Due to your detailed enquiry, I am not able to respond within your schedule,” she said.

She said some of the issues raised need verification of facts, some are still under investigation while some are still before the courts of law.

Meanwhile, it is close to six months since the Police Commissioner Keabetwe Makgophe, Director General of the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crime (DCEC) Tymon Katlholo and the Deputy Director of the DIS Tefo Kgothane were suspended from their official duties on various charges.

Efforts to solicit comment from trade unions were futile at the time of going to press.

Some suspended officers who opted for anonymity claimed that they have close to two years while on suspension. One stated that the investigations that led him to be suspended have not been completed.

“It is heartbreaking that at this time the investigations have not been completed,” he told WeekendPost, adding that “when a person is suspended, they get their salary fully without fail until the matter is resolved”.

Makgophe, Katlholo and Kgothane are the three most high-ranking government officials that are under interdiction.

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